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LA lacks money to cover costs for Lakers parade
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As Angelenos are planning a parade to celebrate Lakers' possible victory over Orlando Magic, city officials complain they have no money to cover the costs, it was reported on Saturday.

At issue are the costs for police, paramedics, barricades and other services along the parade route in downtown Los Angeles, the Los Angeles Times said.

The parade that could be held as early as Wednesday, if the Lakers clinch the NBA title Sunday evening in Orlando.

"We can't afford to cover the costs," Los Angeles City Councilwoman Jan Perry told the paper. "How could we make a decision about people's jobs and then sponsor the parade?" she asked.

She was referring to the city's budget crisis which is forcing layoffs, furloughs and cuts in municipal services.

In past years, the Lakers held victory parades that attracted upwards of one million attendees each to a route that wound through downtown Los Angeles.

Although no formal announcement has been made, city councilman Bernard Parks said this year the team plans a longer parade, from Staples Center to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. A free rally is also being planned for fans inside the 94,000-seat Coliseum.

The parade could happen as early as Wednesday, if the series ends with a Laker victory Sunday night in Orlando.

Police and Lakers officials have already begun discussing crowd control measures, including lining the parade route with cement or metal barriers where it passes car dealers and strip malls between Staples and the Coliseum. Some of those business suffered damages in past Lakers years, when impromptu victory celebrations outside Staples ended in near-riots.

The city has picked up parade crowd control costs in past years. But this year's Laker championship run comes as the city faces an enormous existing budget deficit, and a possible loss of as much as an additional 200 million dollars in local funds that could be sucked up by the state government.

Subsidies for street fairs, 10-kilometer runs and other special events will be chopped under a plan that gets a final vote from the city council next week, according to the paper.

But even if passed, the plan would not go into effect until after the end of the championship series, the paper said.

The city's budget deficit is forcing the city council to negotiate layoffs with labor unions and to consider unpaid days off every other Friday for city employees.

Employee representatives are speaking out against the pricey parade.

"We do not believe it is appropriate in this economic climate for taxpayers to be funding a parade," said Barbara Maynard, spokeswoman for the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, representing about 22,000 workers.

(Xinhua News Agency June 15, 2009)

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